SBJ/20100628/This Week's News

Charity and celebrities part of All-Star lineup

MLB for the 2010 All-Star Game plans to revive the extensive charity and community service theme first introduced last year to significant success.

This year’s midsummer classic, set for July 13 in Anaheim, will once again feature about $5 million in donations for a variety of national and local causes; an expansion of the high-profile, collaborative effort with People magazine for the All-Stars Among Us campaign; and a continuation of many cause-related marketing efforts by MLB sponsors activating on site (see related story).

MLB last year deftly shifted the All-Star Game into a high-profile vehicle for community service and charity, greatly expanding elements that had been secondary themes. Even with the change, the event still generated strong economic returns, including in comparison to the record-setting 2008 showcase in New York.

Last year’s FanFest attendance was a record 150,804. League executives are eyeing a further increase this year for the five-day event at the Anaheim Convention Center.

A broad new cross-licensing deal with Disney is expected to spur merchandise sales well beyond last year’s returns. The deal also serves as the catalyst for the MLB-logoed Mickey Mouse statues being installed around Southern California and sold at retail as a lead-up to the game.

A deal with Disney produced the MLB-
logoed Mickey Mouse statues popping
up in the area.

Local economic impact projections have gone as high as $85 million, far below the record $148 million set in New York but far above any other All-Star Game host city. MLB also plans to use the suburban Los Angeles locale to heighten celebrity involvement in the event, again in the name of community service.

“Like always, you look to adapt to each market and take on the personality of the host city,” said Marla Miller, MLB senior vice president of special events. “We obviously have a great opportunity to have a big celebrity focus and extend our charitable initiatives.”

MLB has not yet disclosed the names of celebrities slated to take part in All-Star Game festivities.

One major element not returning this year is the high-profile concert held the last two years on the Sunday before the game. After scheduling Bon Jovi in Central Park in 2008 and Sheryl Crow under the St. Louis Arch last year, MLB could not find a similar, suitable public venue to warrant a repeat effort.

“It was something that worked really well in New York and St. Louis, but there wasn’t that same iconic setting available to us,” Miller said. “It gives us an opportunity to really market the Red Carpet Show, which will be going through the streets of Anaheim and Disneyland.”

The Red Carpet Show, in its sixth year, will for the first time this year add the element of going through private property — Disneyland — in addition to the traditional public routing for the parade of players making their way to the ballpark for the game.

People magazine, meanwhile, saw a tripling this year in nominations (to more than 7,000) for the All-Stars Among Us campaign, which honors ordinary citizens doing great things in their local communities, and a doubling in voting for the final honorees (to 1.7 million). The final 30 honorees, one representing each MLB team, will be announced today and recognized on the field during pregame ceremonies.

“It’s been fascinating and really encouraging to see and hear how the exposure generated from this program has in turn expanded many of the causes that have been honored,” said Susan Parkes, vice president of marketing for the style and entertainment group at People parent Time Inc. “There’s a duality of this promotion that is really great, in that it helps us reach more men, and MLB reach more women.”

The suburban setting of Anaheim differs from the downtown, urban footprints seen in recent years in St. Louis, San Francisco (2007) and Pittsburgh (2006). But with the convention center, Disneyland and numerous hotels all clustered near Angel Stadium, transportation for the game and its related festivities is being seen as a manageable component of this year’s event.

“We see this area as an absolute natural,” said Angels Chairman Dennis Kuhl. “The convention center’s literally right down the street. Everything is within very easy reach, and, of course, that little thing called Disneyland is next door, too. All-Star is really going to work in this community.”

On the ticket front, the Angels did need to relocate a number of season-ticket holders to accommodate MLB sponsor needs, as is the case each year for the All-Star Game. The club used a program similar to what was in place in St. Louis last year in which season-ticket holders who volunteered to relocate from prime lower-level locations were given the option to purchase two All-Star tickets in the upper bowl or outfield pavilion for every one season ticket held.

Prices this year range from $145 to $330 for the Home Run Derby and $185 to $360 for the game itself, figures that on the low end are generally twice the cheapest figures in St. Louis but largely unchanged at the high end.

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